dog feeding schedule

Devising the best feeding schedule for dogs is just as important as choosing the right dog food to begin with. There are two common approaches to feeding–free feeding vs. scheduled feeding, and each have their pros and cons.

Free Feeding Vs. Scheduled Feeding for Dogs

It’s important to compare the two approaches to see which is best for your situation and for your pets. Free feeding vs. scheduled feeding below can help you make that decision.

Free Feeding

Pros: Leaving food out for your dog that allows him to eat as much as he likes, when he likes, is known as free feeding. Wet or canned dog food spoils a lot faster than dry food, so this method of feeding obviously works better with the latter. 

And, if you have more than one dog, this method allows all the dogs to eat from the same bowl during the day, and if you have a busy schedule or aren’t at home all day, it’s advantageous.


Cons: However, if you have more than one dog eating from the same bowl, this method may not work as well as you think; one dog may eat all the food, leaving nothing for the others. 

Some dog and cat breeds tend to eat even after they have eaten enough to feel full. So, having food out all day without supervision may lead to your pet becoming overweight and unhealthy. 

Scheduled Feeding

Pros: The scheduled feeding method is probably the best feeding schedule for dogs if you have a set routine and are able to put food down at the same time daily. Because your dog is limited to how much he can eat, it’s healthier than the free feeding approach.

If your dog needs to have medications mixed in with his food, this scheduled method is clearly preferable. If your dog is following a weight-controlled diet, you will have to adopt this approach. 

Having a scheduled and regular feeding time also lets you observe your dog’s eating habits, and monitor food intake, especially if he is ill or is trying to regain some weight. Also, bonding with your dog is an integral part of a scheduled mealtime for many dog owners.


Cons: But of course, you will have to feed your dog several times in a day if you decide this is the best feeding schedule for dogs.

best feeding schedule for dogs

When it comes to puppies, as most puppies need to eat smaller, more frequent meals than grown dogs, this method can be challenging for the first few months.

Scheduled feedings may mean that someone else has to come into your home if you are at work for most of the day, and the breed and age of your dog may also be a factor.


Your vet will be happy to help if you can’t decide on the proper feeding schedule for dogs. A mechanical and programmable food bowl may be the answer; it can be programmed so that your dog gets a small portion of food at set times each day.

The best feeding schedule for dogs is the one that considers your dog’s long term health but also how convenient it is to you and your family’s lifestyle.